Sagmeister & Walsh shift Function up a gear

Sagmeister & Walsh has designed a new visual identity for US engineering company Function featuring an animated type system and extensive set of icons.

Sagmeister & Walsh has designed a new visual identity for US engineering company Function featuring an animated type system and extensive set of icons.

Function specialises in mechanical design for product development, including entertainment, computing, robotic and medical equipment. The new identity was commissioned to mark the company’s 25th anniversary and is the first brand refresh Function has undergone in 15 years.



As well as updating the company’s logo (a gear symbol), Sagmeister & Walsh designed a new word mark for the company and an animated hinge and pivot type system, representing Function’s expertise in creating hinge and linkage mechanisms. The studio also produced a series of patterns and icons to be used on promotional material and is working on a new Function website.


“The goal was to capture the company’s focus on mechanical design for product development and elicit a sense of joy in the details,” says Function business development manager Lori Hobson. “Various treatments of a gear had served as the company’s mark since its founding, so bringing this up to date and adding a typographical treatment of the Function name were two considerations for the project,” Hobson adds.


Jessica Walsh, who art directed the project, says the identity reflects Function’s desire to communicate “a respect for design…while still being purposeful and technical.”

“We started with the Function word mark..[and] using the exact elements that went into constructing the Function typography, created a series of icons which worked within the same system. We then collaborated with Joel to create the animations over a several week period,” she says.

“We focused on engineering symbols, robot, tools and technical icons to represent the different services the company provides. From there we created general icons which could be useful on the web or in their materials, [and] took the system a step further by developing a series of patterns based on these icons,” she adds. (Interesting how many schemes these days include sets of graphic patterns.)

Function’s new identity is a versatile system and one that perfectly communicates the company’s ethos in an elegant way. It’s got plenty of hi-tech cool as befits a Silicon Valley headquartered outfit.

There have been some suggestions that the logotype and symbol are reminiscent of Ed Nacional‘s work for online learning resource Skillshare but for us they are clearly different, the Function work being derived from the idea of gearing and links in bicycle chains and expressed in three dimensions. It’s a long way from traditional metal-bashing but this is a company whose forte is new product development, including robotics and high-level electronics. Appropriately, Sagmeister & Walsh have given them a really nicely put together system.



Creative direction: Stefan Sagmeister
Art direction & design: Jessica Walsh
Design: Wade Jeffree
Animation: Joel Voelker

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